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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I seem to have issues with the first lap. I know at the beginning of a race your going to spike your HR and then eventually settle down and find your groove. It is taking me too long to settle down and find that groove. Am I not warming up enough? Am I training wrong? My 2nd lap I always feel so much stronger than my first, but by then I'm usually out of the race because I can't keep up during the first lap. What can I do to help increase my first lap performance?

This past weekend was a long race (30 miles) and I wanted to die during the first lap. I was miserable. The 2nd lap I felt much better. (10 mile laps, 3 laps). Really pissing me off.
 

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Jam Econo
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30 miles is a long race; longer than I've done off road.
I've become a proponent of getting off to a fast start, but it seems that might not be the best way to go for you.
You might want to try practicing putting out maximum effort for 15 to 30 minutes after a short warm-up, and then ride at a brisk tempo for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
But again I have no experience racing a 30 mile mtb race; they are much shorter mile-wise around here.
 

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bi-winning
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in the past, my laps have always gotten slower throughout the race. so, i have started taking it easier on the first lap. i never have the chance to pre-ride, so if i try to go to hard on lap 1, i waste energy because i don't know what is coming. riding every lap efficiently is important.

since i don't start super hard, i am often forced to play "reel 'em in" as i get towards the end of the race, hopefully picking off riders as they fade.
 

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A long race of 30 miles would indicate you need a lot of training-maybe 15 hours a week or more. I have found that hill work and intervals can help some on the starts and the first few minutes of a race. If you have a few extra pounds to lose that might be the easiest way to get faster. I think I read that the average Tour pro rider has a budget of $50,000 annually for food supplements.
 

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How Does Your First Lap Go?

I believe the first lap is very critical to the race, actually, more like the first hill!!

Here out west, most races have a long hill at the beginning, and I've seen that there is a strong correlation between the order of racers on that first hill, and the final outcome of the race.

So, for example, if you're last on the first hill, you'll likely be last in the race; you may make up one or two spots, but that's about it.

There are some that may hold back a bit at the beginning and deliberately drop back, but that is not the optimal strategy, since:
- so much energy is consumed passing people
-you lose the ability to control pace
-the potential exist for being hindered on downhills.

From there it is all about the Power/Weight ratio. You need to improve it: produce more power, or lose some weight, or better yet, both!!

You may need a better warm-up routine (at least half hour), but Power/weight has to be the dominant factor for having a weak first lap, especially if this is happening consistently race after race.
 

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observations

just a few observations.

you can't win the race in the first 10 minutes, but you CAN lose it. if you go TOO hard, you may blow up or take a long time to recover. you need to know your limits and stick ot them.

the fastest local master expert, NEVER goes hard at the start. i have been mid pack all season and he only passes me 10 minutes into the race but always wins by a good margin. he just knows how to pace himself.

for me, the first lap is painful but lots of guys fade at that 10 minute mark. my problem is i have a BIG fade around 1:30.

it might be that you are not taking a long enough warm up, or enough hard effort in warm up. i do about 15 minutes easy to moderate, then about 5 minutes at race pace, plus 2 or 3, 10 second sprints and then a few more minutes of spinning get all the systems going for me.

BTW, 30 miles is pretty long. was it a flat race? what was your time?

good luck.
 

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First lap usually goes not so well....

In a 3 lap race, at the end of the first lap is when those evil "why am I here?" thoughts begin to creep in. First lap is very tough mentally. I've started doing interval training, so my recovery is improving..
 

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Sweep the leg!
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I dunno, maybe I've done too many road races and crits. The first multi lap xc race of the year, with 6 mile laps, I had the following for lap times.

1st lap... 27:42 average HR 161
2nd lap... 27:50 average HR 162
3rd lap... 27:47 average HR 164

It is easy for me to find a tempo and settle. I rarely look at the HRM on my bars unless I'm suffering and want to see if I'm above my max HR.

It also could be because I'm on a SS. Once I'm at peak RPM's I doubt I'll be able to go faster, but if I crack there's always slower.
 

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I wanna go fast!
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Caffeine Powered said:
I dunno, maybe I've done too many road races and crits. The first multi lap xc race of the year, with 6 mile laps, I had the following for lap times.

1st lap... 27:42 average HR 161
2nd lap... 27:50 average HR 162
3rd lap... 27:47 average HR 164

It is easy for me to find a tempo and settle. I rarely look at the HRM on my bars unless I'm suffering and want to see if I'm above my max HR.

It also could be because I'm on a SS. Once I'm at peak RPM's I doubt I'll be able to go faster, but if I crack there's always slower.
Above your max HR? Not many people can do that and live to tell about it... :D
 

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How much do you warm up?

You can't sprint well without having at least 1 sprint before a race.

In swimming, you warm up A TON before races, but then I occurred to me: swimming has absolutely no impact. So can somebody input how much warm-up would be good for his 30 mile race?
 

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The general rule is the longer the race, the shorter the warm-up.

You would warm up a lot more for a crit than say a RR. But MTB races you should warm-up well due to the crazy and critical start.

A typical warm-up for me for a 2 hour MTB race is half hour:
1. 10 minutes zone 1 and 2
2. Spend next ten minutes going into 1-2 minute intervals of zones 3 and 4
3. Then the final ten minutes go into spurts of zone 5a, 5b

You don't want the race to be the first time your legs get hit with lactic acid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The 30 mile race trail was obscene. Just a brutal trail. Your entire body gets a workout since its not a smooth trail and then its just hill after hill. Some hills you HAVE to walk your bike up, others are short steep climbs. But there were also a few long hills that weren't steep, but just never ended. One hill near the end was long and bumpy so difficult to carry momentum. The final down hill (ski hill) was steep and about 300 yards of 6 inches of sand...all downhill. A lot of endo's happened here.

I did a shorter warm up because that is what Friel says to do on a longer race. I will focus on doing more intense warm ups. How long before the start do you warm up? I think Friel says to give yourself 10-15 minutes to get to starting line, etc.
 

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I also seem to feel much better on the second lap of a race than the first-- mainly because I feel like I need to hold back in the beginning and make sure i don't fade, but I rarely do!

yeah, it's a fine line between going out too hard and losing the race on the first lap
 

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Guppie58, I'm with you as a slow starter/strong finisher. I usually don't hit my stride until well into the race. Longer warm-ups have helped, but too much warm up leads to late race fade for me, so its a balancing act. Pacing myself and trying to not drop too far back in the first lap seems to work better than killing myself at the start to stay with the lead riders. When I do that, I either blow up mid-race or feel so awful after the race that I look back at the race as no fun. If it's not fun, what's the point? Good luck and have fun!
 

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If you find you are kicking the crap out of yourself on the first lap consider starting farther back in the pack. Pace behind a rider that you know you can beat easily for the first lap. It will make you work to catch the leaders on the second or thirde lap but should give the time to warm up.

I would also be looking at your training. I'm slow to warm up also because of lots of endurance miles but I mix in some short races in my training. 30-40 minute races will help you.

http://http://matthewspak.blogspot.com/
 

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It also depends on the type of race you're running. I mostly run crits at the moment, so it's either 3 laps of ~10:30 (Westgate) or 6-8 laps of 4:40 (Bushy Park).
For the Westgate/Kona crits, you're usually in a pack for the first half of the lap anyway, so your time typically lags by about 1 minute from your other two laps.
Bushy Park on the other hand has a long 200 meter 10% climb at the completion of each lap, and if you hammer up that, it can wear you out. Because it's at the end of the lap as well that's where you're really trying for those last couple of positions, and the most passing occurs.

In case you're interested, the last time I ran at Bushy Park (about 8 weeks ago, before I broke my collarbone) the laps looked like this:
1 - 4:34, Avg 179
2 - 4:48, 177
3 - 4:32, 178
4 - 4:46, 176
5 - 4:37, 177
6 - 4:38, 178

Laps 1 and 2 were the only times I hit 182. I went as low as 170 on lap 2. I can't recall why the figures are varied, but most likely I got stuck behind a slower rider. (30 riders on a 1.3km course can slow you down when you need to pass).

I'd like to be able to give you some data for a longer (6 hour) race where the laps are 50 minutes, but unfortunately when I last ran one my HRM was going crazy, spiking to 210/230 and getting all kinds of inaccurate readings :(
 

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this is my first year of racing, so take this with a grain of salt, but I just started warming up a lot more/harder than before (now do 25 mins easy, 20 mins intense riding before a race) and it's helped my first lap a lot. I always started well, but faded after 10-15 minutes, now I still fade but not as much. my second lap is usually strong, and just when I get into a groove the race ends :\ (maybe time to move up to sport!)
 
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